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Using Data to Enhance Your Business Decision Making and Strategy
January 09, 2018 Maxwell Aaronson, Office of Small Business

You may have heard the terms ‘big-data’ and ‘data-driven decisions’ being mentioned in your industry or in the news. You may also have wondered how businesses take advantage of the data they collect both internally and obtain from external sources to enhance their business decision making. Large multinational corporations typically have whole teams or even divisions solely tasked with data analysis to improve their strategic decision making. However, using data is not just for large businesses. Businesses of any size can benefit!

So how can you get started? First, assess what data you already have and how it is measured. This may be sales data, expense reports, information on your customers, suppliers or distributors, or market data to inform you of existing or potential new sales channels (to name just a few examples). Understanding this will allow you to have an initial impression of what data you have already and where it is coming from.

At this point you should think about what your overall business strategy is. What are some of the unanswered questions you have and what information and/or data do you need to answer them? This is important so that you don’t just start collecting data and analyze it without a specific purpose in mind.

So where do you find this data? You would be amazed at what is out there and that a lot of it won’t cost a penny. Below are a few examples of data sources from various government agencies which provide data to the public at no cost, whether you wish to expand your business domestically or internationally, and regardless of which sector you operate in:

  • Small Business Administration Open Data: The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a variety of data sources which are openly accessible to the public. Topics include SBA loan distribution and performance data, tables defining SBA small business standards, lists of SBA lending institutions throughout the country, and many more.
  • Department of Commerce Census Bureau Data: The U.S. Census (a branch of the Department of Commerce) publishes free accessible data on a number of topics, including foreign trade. Within this particular section, you can view trade data on almost every country, helping you to scope out potential new growth opportunities abroad.
  • EXIM Bank Trade Data: Similarly, EXIM publishes trade data showing export volumes to particular countries and within specific sectors. You can even zoom in on your state for specific export details in your area, and see example companies who have used EXIM trade finance products to grow their businesses through exports.

As you can see data is widely available and can help you to enhance your business. The Department of Commerce and EXIM are just a couple of the free government data sources available to you should you be looking to expand your business overseas through exports. Moreover, you may also be interested in alternative ways to expand your business overseas such as the Getting to Global Initiative and SBA Online Courses.

Interested in learning more? We would be happy to speak to you! Request a free consultation with an EXIM Trade Specialist today!

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